News

3 Tap Trends in Michelle Dorrance's TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience

Joseph Wiggan and Josette Wiggan-Freund in Harmony: Tap in Motion. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

This summer at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, tap program director Michelle Dorrance curated a mixed repertory program that showcased the best of the best in tap innovation. Four extremely diverse acts graced the stage of the Ted Shawn Theatre for a one-of-a-kind tap extravaganza. Here are three of our favorite tap trends that we hope to see much more of.


1.Tap and jazz music go hand in hand: OK, so this isn't so much of a trend as an integral facet of tap history and culture, but in TIRELESS, tap dance and jazz music were fused like never before. Brother/sister duo Joseph Wiggan and Josette Wiggan-Freund brought tracks by Duke Ellington to life in their harmonious duet, part choreographed, part improvised. Later, Jumaane Taylor of Chicago's M.A.D.D. Rhythms closed the show with Supreme Love—a reverent, yet crowd-pleasing tribute to John Coltrane.

Joe Orrach in In My Corner. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

2.Tap + theater = #winning: Joe Orrach's blend of dance and theater in In My Corner was a recipe for success. With first-person narration, live music and even some boxing segments with a punching bag, Orrach shared a heartfelt interpretation of his journey from welterweight boxing champion to tap choreographer. With all eyes on Orrach, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.

Reona and Takashi Seo in Aun. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

3.Improvisation at its finest: In Aun, Reona and Takashi Seo showed the audience the extent to which two performers can be on the same wavelength. With Takashi on upright bass and Reona tapping, the pair carried on a completely improvised musical conversation, pushing their respective instruments to the limits. At one point Reona tapped on top of and then inside a metal bucket while Takashi riffed off her rhythms on bass.

For more on TIRELESS, check out the postshow talk with Michelle Dorrance and the performers.

Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.